Little & Large: Charting The Rise And Rise Of The AT-AT – Part Two

Whether the inspiration of the All Terrain Armoured Transport (AT-AT) was really the container cranes at the Port of Oakland or not, there’s no denying that the four-legged transport was the chosen means of deploying Imperial ground forces in combat environments. (Though just how the compliment of 40 snowtroopers was able to rapidly disembark from the AT-AT has never been given a canon explanation.)

With a height of in excess of 65 feet (20 meters), its heavy armor playing meant it was impervious to everything but turbolaser fire, and its four articulated legs meant it could cover any terrain, whether it be mud, forests or snowscapes.

Like the Star Destroyer of the Imperial Navy, the AT-AT came in several variants – including cargo carriers and cranes – that were defined by the arenas of conflict they were engaged in, and while LEGO hasn’t capitalized on these subtle differences (with the exception of 75189 First Oder Heavy Assault Walker) each release has been different enough to keep the interest in the LEGO version of Imperial Walker advancing.

9754 Mindstorms Dark Side Developer Kit

Even though the first official System-scale AT-AT came in 2003, the arrival of the Mindstorms subtheme, a collection of sets that combined TECHNIC and System elements with a rudimentary robotics package to the Star Wars lineup in 1999, it was technically possible to build an AT-AT with the 482-piece 9754 Mindstorms Dark Side Developer Kit way back in 2000.

The set in question contained instructions for a Destroyer Droid, Vulture Droid, an AAT as well as the AT-AT. Sadly the build only remotely resembles the Imperial Walker, and its lurching gait is a bigger weakness than its susceptibility to being tripped up by tow cables.

4483 AT-AT

Those who got on at the first bus stop on the LEGO Star Wars route in 1999 had to wait four long years before the debut System-scale AT-AT turned up when, in June 2003, 4483 AT-AT was released. Initially packaged in a black borders box, it was repackaged in 2004 when it came out in a box with a blue border, allowing it to fit in with the master packaging theme.

At a whopping 1052 pieces, this AT-AT was the largest System-scale set in the Star Wars theme at the time, and had a part count that put it in range of a number of Ultimate Collector Series models.

The content and design of both were identical; containing the old gray pallet and minifigures with the original yellow heads. Three of the four minifigures included were unique to the set.

The build had everything that could be expected from an AT-AT; the head/cockpit, body/troop carrier and four fully poseable legs. The head, which had notoriously insecure side panels, had a hinged lid that allowed access cockpit. Unsatisfyingly, it only had room for only one minifigure. The sides of the main body were hinged halfway up on both sides to allow access to the interior which had seating for two minifigures. The articulated legs had poseable joints that allowed the AT-AT to be creatively positioned in a number of poses. The inclusion of a white speeder bike caused a great deal of confusion at the time, until word that Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections (DK, 1998) featured an illustration of an AT-AT with a compartment for speeder bikes. The finishing touch was a rope for a lightsaber-wielding Luke Skywalker to hang from.

10178 Motorized Walking AT-AT

Timed to coincide with the release of the new Power Functions system, a collection of TECHNIC based electronic componentry, 10178 Motorized Walking AT-AT was the last powered set in the Star Wars theme until the 2019 release of 75253 Droid Commander, a vastly updated version of 9748 Droid Developer Kit from 1999.

Whilst being a similar size to the previous (and upcoming) model, this 2007 set was essentially a skin of plates fixed over a Technic frame, which accommodated the Power Function motor and gearing system that moved the legs. Given the lack of sophisticated cogs and sprockets at the designer’s fingertips, the ungainly strides taken by the AT-AT were a big step forward.

Even though this AT-AT came with both a driver and commanding officer, the cockpit only had one seat – perhaps the driver was back in the main body operating the Power Functions? The main body’s interior was open with no seating and is only used to house the battery pack and motors. Minifigures included in this 1121-piece set were Luke Skywalker in his orange flight suit, a Snowtrooper, an AT-AT Driver, and – for the first time – General Maximillian Veers. Finally, coming under the category of “useful features” was a carry handle that, in the absence of a Gozanti-class cruiser, made moving the AT-AT a breeze.

8129 AT-AT Walker

Seven years – in 2010 – after the release of 4483 AT-AT came 8129 AT-AT Walker, the model’s first direct successor., and somewhere in Billund one of the designers must have been watching How I Met Your Mother because the suit on this AT-AT is, wait for it… legendary. Designed in a blend of light and dark gray, this set sported an all-new bluish tint to its colorway.

Unable to deviate from the obvious, this model’s features were largely the same as the others – including the missing “toe”, the internal troop compartment with its half-height hinged door, the cockpit mounted in the same way and there was still a hanging point for a dangling Luke Skywalker. Two inclusions worth noting, the interior of the troop compartment had a slide-in platform with three seats and it came with a radar laser cannon.

Packed with the most minifigures ever included with an Imperial Walker, this 782-piece set came with eight minifigures – Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, C-3PO, two Snowtroopers, an AT-AT Driver, General Maximillian Veers and a Hoth Rebel Trooper – and those with skin arrived with the new light nougat flesh tone.

75054 AT-AT

75054 AT-AT

Practically riding the coattails of the previous incarnation, the appearance of 75054 AT-AT in 2014 signaled that the Empire was not stopping its march to victory. Dropping any Rebel content, this set meant business – Imperial business.

Once again the features were adjusted from the previous build to give those who already had an AT-AT a reason to add a new one to their collection. the cockpit now seats two minifigures and was attached to the main body in a more secure fashion, the sides of the troop compartment were fully hinged from the very top of the build which allowed better access but with a complete lack of any interior features, it was wasted effort, and perhaps most contentiously – spring-loaded missiles! With no Luke Skywalker minifigure, there is no hanging Luke but there is the added play function of spring shooters placed under the cockpit.

Comprised of 1137 pieces and including a Snowtrooper, Snowtrooper Commander, an AT-AT Driver and General Maximillian Veers minifigures, this was the best AT-AT yet.

75288 AT-AT

75288 AT-AT

After a six-year gap LEGO Star Wars fans were treated to the fifth System-scaled AT-AT when the 1243-piece 75288 AT-AT arrived in 2020, with six minifigures: Luke Skywalker, two Snowtroopers, two AT-AT Drivers and another all-new General Maximillian Veers.

Most significantly – and back from a decade-long absence – was Luke Skywalker, but instead of a loose rope this minifigure could be attached to a grappling gun that was connected to a winch, allowing the Rebel hero – armed with a thermal detonator – to ascend to the belly of the beast.

By increasing the width of the model, not only did the LEGO designers manage to fit a third seat into the cockpit, making this the first AT-AT that could accommodate a full crew, they were able to include the missing inner toe on the AT-AT’s feet. Additional seating was also included in the main body’s interior – with space for five snowtroopers – and has there was space for an E-Web gun, as well as a speeder bike. Continuing the “Greatest Hits” theme was the return of the chin-mounted spring-loaded missiles.

There’s no doubting that the All Terrain Armored Transport has come a long way since the first LEGO model was released, and we’re celebrating this iconic vehicle long-awaited addition to the Ultimate Collector Series subtheme on Black Friday 2021. Be sure to subscribe to The Holo-Brick Archive by hitting the blue bell in the right corner, because you don’t want to be lAT-AT-e to the party!

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